Before continuing to read this, I actually liked Vietnam, so don’t take this the wrong way.
Vietnam has developed a bad rap amongst travelers, with many leaving Vietnam saying they will never be back. I think that is a bit on the extreme side, or maybe we just didn’t get the worst of it, either way, there are some things that got under my skin in Vietnam that I most certainly won’t miss (but at the same time won’t hold me back from returning).
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#1) Not being able to walk on the sidewalk
In Vietnam the sidewalk is for motorbike parking, it’s a place to eat, a place to do business, but most certainly it is not a place to walk! And if you happen to find an inch of sidewalk it’s only a matter of seconds before someone pulls onto the sidewalk, directly in front of you, so close it makes you stop.
I found myself saying ‘Really’ a lot while walking in Vietnam; people pulling up on the sidewalk so close it makes you say ‘REALLY, you had to be right there’, ‘REALLY ,you couldn’t wait until I was passed’…
#2) The scams
Everything seems to have a variable price in Vietnam. My favorite scam was on a bus ride from Da Nang to Hue, where I paid 60,000 dong to ride the bus, but when I went to go put my bag under the bus the driver claimed I owed him 100,000 dong for my bag to ride the bus. I laughed at him and put my bag under, there was no charge he just thought I was stupid.
#3) The constant line cutting
It’s like nails against a chalkboard to me when people can’t follow simple human order. Lines and order don’t matter in Vietnam, it’s whoever pushes harder or is more bold gets ahead. Surprisingly, it’s the littlest ladies that push forward and generally just don’t care. The common trick is to look confused and wander through the line until they are at the front, just staring at their ticket, or receipt, or whatever, with a stupid look on their face (but really knowing exactly what they are doing).
I still get mad thinking about one incident in an overcrowded Vietnamese grocery store, think Walmart on black Friday… A whole family of grown up sisters must have been shopping together and one family member got into the checkout line while the rest shopped.
Each come back with a cart full, and try to butt in line with their carts. Hannah points to the back of the line, we had already been in the line 20+ mins. Guess what they do… they then proceed to throw all items into the 1 sisters cart (directly in front of us)and do 5 transactions.
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#4) Everything being Vietnamese size
We are too big for most things in most countries, but Vietnam takes the cake in small seats, bathrooms, and pretty much everything.
You just won’t understand the scope of this complaint until you visit Vietnam. No Vietnam travel guide can explain this chaos. I can tell you there are millions of motorbikes, but this is something you need to see to understand.
#6) Flagrant public nose picking
From the best I can determine it is perfectly acceptable to dig in right out in the open. It seems some people even manicure their nails in a nice long and pointed fashion to assist the pick. I guess there are worse things, but then you think of the nice little lady making your sandwich…
#7) Haggling on food prices
I am used to fighting for a deal on souvenirs and things like that while traveling, but I hate fighting and feeling like I got screwed over food. Haggling in general from absurd starting prices, our general rule of thumb in Vietnam you should pay more than 1/4 of their first asking price.
#8) Not being able to get a coffee without sugar
I know I said seven, but this is a petty one, but probably made the rest worse. After a crazy look from the waitress, I would inevitably end up with an overly sweet cup of bad coffee. I just wanted black coffee, no sugar… please.